It is four years since I won the 2015 election in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, writes Neil Coyle MP…
I remain proud of the brilliant support from the local community which helped me win and I continue to try and stand up for the issues most important to people here.
In the snap 2017 general election I won again with a tripled majority of almost 13,000 and more people voting for me than any candidate ever in our constituency’s history!
I am still enormously grateful for such overwhelming support.
I continue to campaign weekly and the doorstep by doorstep conversations still help alert me to super-local issues, especially certain antisocial behaviour as well as allowing direct feedback on my work in Parliament, with Europe a dominant, but positive, feature of many chats!
If I am ever in doubt about an issue in Westminster I know a few hours talking to people in Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Walworth and the Borough will help reassure!
One of the nicest things in the last four years, is being able to make a positive difference to local people.
The thank you cards on my office wall at Jamaica Road, as well as the chocolates and other gifts for helping win back a much-needed disability benefit, or sort a delay with the council, are always appreciated.
In four years it has been frustrating to be in Opposition. I would like the chance to be our community’s voice in Government. But from the Labour backbenches I have managed to win some campaigns.
Terminally ill people will get more support with their Personal Independent Payments after I helped change the law. I am also pleased to have taken my background running a charity for carers and disabled people onto the Work and Pensions select committee to improve other support.
Employers affected by attacks like those our community suffered at London Bridge and Borough Market will now get extra help as a result of my work to improve Terror Insurance cover and JustGiving will also no longer make a profit from donations to people or areas affected by terrorism after my campaign.
One of the reasons I believe local people chose me in 2015 was because of the impact of the Cameron/Clegg Coalition.
My Lib Dem predecessor backed policies like the Bedroom Tax, tripling tuition fees and cutting the police. Local people know what the damage has been and, sadly, I still see constituents suffering weekly.
One of the biggest problems people bring me every week is Universal Credit which the Lib Dems helped introduce and has been a massively damaging issue for thousands of people in Southwark, including many working people unable to cover housing costs and forced to use local foodbanks.
I do not pretend it has been an easy four years for our country. Two general elections, divisions within political parties, a bitterly fought referendum soured with foreign influence, overspending and law breaking, and the murder of my friend Jo Cox.
Thankfully, the fascist who killed her did not win and Jo’s legacy lives on through the work of the foundation continuing to tackle the issues she worked so hard on. The weekend of 21st-23rd June is the third annual ‘Great Get Together’ in Jo’s memory. There are activities across Southwark, from street parties to BBQs – find out more and get involved at: www.greatgettogether.org
I also know from my experiences living and working as your MP that our community spirit in Southwark is something to celebrate. We truly have, in Jo Cox’s words, ‘more in common than that which divides us’ and we should all be proud of that here.